(Daddy chews his fingernails)
And so, the day has finally arrived.
The end of the March School Holidays marked the beginning of school life for Ale. We had decided to hold off her enrolment into N1 until the start of Term 2 primarily because of Ayd. He too, was embarking on a major milestone of his own at the beginning of this year - the leap into Primary School territory - and the wifey and I didn't want to dilute the importance of that.
For now though, the attention had turned to Ale and if she was feeling all nervous and anxious about it, she wasn't showing it.
In fact, it was Ash who was the most stressed out one of all! He kept worrying that her dear little mei-mei would cry herself silly in school.
Well, it turned out that his worries were not without any merit.
The moment she first stepped into the classroom, her body tensed up and she glanced pensively around her. The cries of two other boys certainly did little to calm her nerves and she clutched my hand even tighter than before.
The first activity of the day was meal time, which she tucked in with gusto... but not before making sure this personal bodyguard of hers was positioned right beside her.
She went on to wallop the entire contents of her meal, with the spoon in one hand and the other gripping my hand ever so tightly.
I stayed on for another 1.5 hours, and then I decided to turn sneaky. I told Ale that I had to go outside to have my lunch as well because I was feeling hungry. I must have caught her at an appropriate time because she barely looked up, let go of my hand and nodded.
And so I left.
Barely 30 minutes later, I received a call from the school informing me that Ale had been inconsolable ever since I took my leave. I was told that since it was her first day at school, I could pick her up slightly earlier than the said dismissal time. And that was that.
Day 2 and surprisingly, Ale didn't exhibit any phobia of putting on her school uniform. This time around, I decided that I will be good and stay together with her in class for as long as she needed me. Okay okay, so that was what the wifey made me promise.
With me in class, Ale was her usual self - playing with other kids, joining in the song-and-dance routine and story-telling session. Well, she exhibited extreme cling wrap behaviour by sticking onto me most of the time but the crying episodes were kept to a minimum. I ended up staying put in her class for the entire session... but on a more positive note - which I have shared on our Facebook Fanpage as well - I didn't kena a summon ticket.
That night, she knocked out at 7.30pm which is a world record by her standards. All the schooling (and crying) must have tired the pool girl out... and to make matters even more heart-wrenching, she cried out in her sleep, "Papa, don't go!!!" :(
Day 3 and this would be the day of reckoning. Parents were only allowed to sit in for the first 2 days and so, this was the day where Ale would be left to her own devices. The wifey and I had to return to work so it was my Dad who sent her to school. Expectedly, she cried buckets when she was handed over to her teachers... which of course broke the heart of my Dad who by the way, is totally wrapped around Ale's fingers.
Come dismissal time, all of us were anxious to find out how she had fared. It turned out that there were still on and off crying fits, but it was generally much better than the first 2 days. That's definitely great news and what better way to celebrate than an ice cream treat for the little Diva!
Day 4 would see her shedding even lesser tears in school, so we were all glad that Ale was making good progress. The Easter long weekend came and went, and we were hopeful that the extended break from school didn't pose any harmful after-effects.
This time, we were right. On her 6th day at school, she didn't shed a single tear in school. Not even when she bade farewell to her grandfather. So it was definitely a sooner-than-expected pleasant surprise!
In fact, she is so excited about school now that the first thing she does when she comes back from school, is to open her school bag and show everyone its contents.
My little princess is definitely growing up, bit by bit, day by day.